Admit it, one of the benefits of Minnesota residence is the bragging rights you have among your out-of-town friends. "So, how cold is it now?" they ask, and over the phone line or even via return e-mail you can discern a sympathetic shudder when they get the reply, "It's about 10 below, but it feels like about 30 below with the wind chill. At least the sun's out today, though." "I don't know how you can do it," they'll say, grateful for their temperate environs, and for a moment it's easy to feel pretty tough. Then you remember that the old, the frail, and the infantile usually survive the season too, so maybe it doesn't take so much strength after all. Still, January offers many pleasures to Twin Citians. Pure physical beauty, for one. There aren't many prettier sights than a wet snowfall in the late evening, when snow and ice cling to our plentiful trees making them look like something magical. The sky glows pink, and everything dirty is buried beneath a fresh, clean, glistening blanket of white. January can also be quite productive: It's the obvious time to learn to knit or tackle a difficult novel. And while the quantity of out-of-home entertainment consumed may drop, the quality almost certainly goes up. If you do leave the house, it's gonna be for a damn good reason. Snow sports enthusiasts and people who ice fish don't need to be sold on this month's merits. And finally, it's what January doesn't have that makes it so pleasant. Hear of any drive-by shootings that happened that month? And random sexual harassment goes way down for women: With the population covered in parkas and Elmer Fudd hats, jerks don't know where to direct their catcalls.


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